Number of volunteer firefighters in Wisconsin holds steady
National trend sees decrease in volunteers
MADISON, Wis. — The number of volunteer firefighters in Wisconsin is holding steady, even as national numbers are at their lowest levels in more than 20 years.
Philip Stittleburg is the fire chief in LaFarge in western Wisconsin. He’s also the president of the National Volunteer Fire Council.
He told Wisconsin Public Radio that numbers are down across the U.S. in part because of the economy. He said when times are bad, people work overtime or take second jobs, leaving them less time to volunteer as firefighters.
But he said Wisconsin isn’t seeing the same decline, partially due to geography. He said in rural areas people learn to stick together and answer the call when their neighbors need help.
Stittleburg also credits a state-sponsored retirement program as an effective recruitment tool.